ARCHBISHOP GOMEZ PRESENTS MESSAGE FROM POPE FRANCIS TO U.S. IMMIGRANT COMMUNITYAS PART OF SPECIAL MASS COMMEMORATING NATIONAL MIGRATION WEEK 2017
Message is part of Pope Francis’ first US TV interview with El Sembrador Ministries’ Noel Diaz
Archbishop José H. Gomez today presented a message from Pope Francis to the United States immigrant community as part of a Mass in solidarity with immigrants celebrated at Dolores Mission Church, a Catholic parish in the heart of an immigrant community in East LA dedicated to the care of migrants. The Mass commemorates National Migration Week, declared by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops 25 years ago, as a way to reflect upon the many ways immigrants and refugees have contributed to our Church and our nation.
Before the end of Mass Archbishop Gomez invited Noel Diaz, founder of El Sembrador Ministries, to share the message of hope from Pope Francis to the immigrant community in the U.S., which is part of an exclusive interview Diaz recorded with the Holy Father in Rome. The full interview will air on ESNE TV on January 29 at 9 p.m. PST. This marks Pope Francis’ first TV interview with a U.S. media outlet.
In the video message, Pope Francis reassured immigrants in the US facing difficult times not to fear.
“We are a community that also has a mother and Jesus gave her to us – his mother and our mother – and a community with a mother should feel safe,” said Pope Francis. “Russian monks from the medieval period or before had a lovely saying…back then they would say: ‘when there is spiritual turbulence, take refuge under the mantle of the Holy Mother of God.’ And this is what I want to tell you, she said it to Juan Diego in his language: ‘Do not be afraid. Am I not here, I, who am your Mother?’”
“This beautiful message of hope from our Holy Father reminds us that we are one family of God, that we are all God’s children under the loving protection of our Blessed Mother,” said Archbishop Gomez. “He recalls the words of Our Lady of Guadalupe to St. Juan Diego during a time of fear and uncertainty, words of reassurance to our immigrant brothers and sisters not to be afraid because they are not alone. Like the Blessed Mother of Christ, the Church will always be with them.”
“Pope Francis also called us to live the Gospels and share Christ’s message of God’s loving mercy through encounter with others,” added Archbishop Gomez. “He reminds us that as Christians we must help those who are suffering and in need. That is why as a Church will continue to stand in solidarity with our immigrant brothers because for us this is not a political issue, it’s a human issue.”
“I am grateful to Noel and El Sembrador for making it possible to bring the Holy Father’s message to our immigrant community especially during this time in our Church when we unite to celebrate the contributions of immigrants as part of National Migration Week,” said Archbishop Gomez. “It is especially significant for the immigrant community here that the interview was granted to a network established by an immigrant to the United States.”
“Being able to bring such a meaningful message of hope from the Holy Father to the migrant community in the United States is humbling and a great blessing for me as an immigrant to this great country,” added Diaz.
Also, concelebrating at the Mass was Auxiliary Bishop David O’Connell, for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles’ San Gabriel Pastoral Region, along with priests serving in the Archdiocese. In a gesture of solidarity with our migrant brothers and sisters, the priests sat with the faithful during Mass. As part of the Mass an immigrant college student and an immigrant mother offered their testimonials, letters from immigrant children to the Pope were blessed, and a collage with messages of hope written by youth and members of the community was processed in for the Mass by students of Dolores Mission School.
Following the Mass, Archbishop Gomez, Bishop O’Connell and Noel Diaz visited the third grade class at Dolores Mission School where the students showed the Archbishop the writings and pictures they created to tell their immigrant story for Migration Week.
One of those projects was from a third grader named Marisol. She drew a picture of her family with smiling faces and wrote, “My family wanted to come live in the United States of America because they wanted a new life. They believed America was going to be a better life. I am a good girl citizen because when I grow up I could teach kids.”
For nearly a half century, the Catholic Church in the United States has celebrated National Migration Week, which is an opportunity for the Church to reflect on the circumstances confronting migrants, including immigrants, refugees, children, and victims and survivors of human trafficking. The theme for National Migration Week 2017 draws attention to Pope Francis’ call to create a culture of encounter, and in doing so to look beyond our own needs and wants to those of others around us. In the homily given at his first Pentecost as pope, he emphasized the importance of encounter in the Christian faith: “For me this word is very important. Encounter with others. Why? Because faith is an encounter with Jesus, and we must do what Jesus does: encounter others.”
El Sembrador Ministries (ESNE) was established in 1984 by Noel Diaz to evangelize within his parish community of St. Thomas the Apostle in Los Angeles. Over the last 30 years, the ministry has grown to include a Catholic Television and Radio Network with programing throughout the United States, Latin America and Europe.